By MICHAEL WANBAUGH
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Jack Genovese doesn’t have tickets to tonight’s BCS National Championship game, but that didn’t keep him from traveling here from Simsbury, Conn., to be part of the experience.
“It’s very important to be here,” said Genovese, a 1982 graduate of Notre Dame. “My daughter is student (at Notre Dame) and my brother lives in Sarasota, so we had to come down, no question.”
The game in question is the top-ranked Irish vs. No. 2 Alabama, the defending college football champs. Kickoff is today at approximately 8:30 p.m. EST here at Sun Life Stadium.
Genovese and his daughter, Christina, were in the stadium parking lot Saturday afternoon with friends and family, sipping Budweiser as they picked up Christina’s much-valued ticket, proving that it’s never too early for Irish fans to start tailgating.
Notre Dame and Alabama are two of the most storied programs in college football. The quest for an Alabama dynasty and a possible return to glory for the Fighting Irish have made this perhaps the hardest ticket to get in BCS history.
“I really hope my dad finds a ticket,” said Christina Genovese, a senior at Notre Dame. “I’ll feel extremely bad if he doesn’t.”
Christina was lucky enough to win a ticket through Notre Dame’s student lottery for $150. That’s half the face value because an anonymous donor contributed $400,000 to help defray the costs for Notre Dame students. Still, Christina pointed out, there were only enough tickets for 37 percent of the student body.
“I have a lot of friends who came down here this week,” Christina said. “I certainly know more people without tickets than with them.”
Jack Genovese said he was grateful for that donation and happily paid the $150 so his daughter could experience the game.
“What are dad’s for?,” he said.
Jack has plenty of company — or competition, rather — in his quest to find a seat in the stadium that boasts a capacity of just fewer than 72,000. To put that into perspective, a game played at Notre Dame Stadium — which can be difficult to get tickets for — can have more than 80,000 spectators. Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa seats more than 101,000 people.
“Honestly, tickets won’t be hard to come by,” Genovese said, “but you’re going to have to pay.”
The ticket resale website Stubhub was selling upper deck seats for more than $1,000. Some tickets on eBay, Genovese said, are going for a little less than that. “I’ve been keeping a pretty close eye on it,” he said. “I’d like to get a pair for $500 each, but I doubt that will happen.”
How high will he go?
“If we could get two for $1,400,” Genovese said, “we’d probably do it.”
Up in Fort Lauderdale Megan and Dan Walsh of Granger were able to get tickets and are renting a house on the Intercoastal Waterway with some of their Notre Dame classmates from the class of 1984. Of the 24 people staying in the house this weekend, only six have tickets, Dan said.
One who doesn’t is Marty Ellis who lives in Grosse Pointe Blank, Mich. His daughter is a junior at Notre Dame and she was also lucky enough to get a ticket through the student lottery.
Ellis said he’s also been watching the Internet for a deal for the rest of his family, but hasn’t seen anything less than $700 per ticket. If he doesn’t find a ticket, he said there are plenty of places to watch the game through the local Notre Dame alumni associations.
Either way, Ellis said, he’ll be here with his friends and family to enjoy the experience.
“We go to about three or four home games each year,” Ellis said. “With this, we just thought it would be a nice time for a family vacation.”
Back over at Sun Life Stadium, Christina Genovese now has her ticket in hand and knows how lucky she is. Going to the game and cheering on Notre Dame is a great treat for her to cap an unexpected 12-0 season.
“The past three years were pretty rough,” she said referring to below-average Irish teams. “I’m so proud of this team. This has been the most amazing semester of my life.”
Now all she needs is a ticket for dad.